Rangers’ midfield dilemma has to be the main focus point of Steven Gerrard’s starting line-up tonight.
It’s felt as though the squad have just been playing rolling substitutions with each other when it comes to injuries. Scott Arfield is the latest midfielder to be ruled out of tonight’s clash, with Ryan Jack coming back into the fray.
Jordan Rossiter has made his return to the squad also, and it finally feels as though Rangers are getting back to something like full strength. Still they continue to miss out on the services of Jamie Murphy, but everyone knows that’s a long-term knock.
Attentions now turn to what Gerrard decides to do in the engine room against Spartak tonight. Does he stick with the midfield that struggled to boss Hamilton on Sunday? Or does he freshen things up once more with the likes of Jack waiting in the wings?
Rossiter was one of the main subplots of Sunday’s win. Having spent the best part of two years out on the sidelines, he deserved enormous credit for his display. He looked composed, fresh, and not willing to let the occasion of his return get to him.
What is the boss thinking?
It’s always difficult to read what Gerrard is thinking. Just when you think you know what his team is going to be, he pulls something else out from up his sleeve. Whether he goes with Rossiter tonight, however, is highly doubtful in our opinion.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Jack is going to waltz right back into the side either. The former Aberdeen captain has been struggling since the start of the season with knocks. Gerrard has proven that he doesn’t mind throwing returning stars into the fire, however.
Arfield’s omission certainly opens up a spot for someone alongside Lassana Coulibaly and Ovie Ejaria, who are probably certain to start. Coulibaly was far from impressive in his own right against Hamilton at the weekend, but he continues to perform well on the European stage.
Bringing Jack back, only if he’s ready to go, would be the most logical step. Partnering him with Coulibaly and allowing Ejaria to express himself in a more attacking position could be profitable.
There are a number of different shapes and options Gerrard can use in that midfield to keep things interesting. Who starts the game in there, however, will be an extremely interesting subplot of its own.
Does he keep Rossiter in there after his Hamilton display? Will Jack return alongside Coulibaly? Could Gerrard even pull Andy Halliday back into the midfield tonight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.